Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Day

This is a day of slow fire,
birch quietly burning in a black wood stove,
no wind, little sound, even when dust
falls mote by mote upon crusted
white snow and smoke rises
white from a dozen chimneys.

Today the stock markets are closed,
a day between skirmishes,
houses on Wall Street
assaulting pension funds for the infirm,
elderly and helpless,
bankrupting the retired,
collateral damage that yielded someone
a hefty bonus.

A Sabbath for children driven
homeless into dirty streets,
a day coyotes howl in broad daylight
and dogs answer defiantly excited
through trees on another farm.

A few feathers from a small bird,
scattered on the snow,
a chickadee for something’s meal,
must have been an owl,
how could a fox do that?

As I walk by, the horse is glad for company.
He stands all winter in his paddock under trees.
He runs in circles when coyotes or wolves
give voice.

Somewhere this is a day of packed feeways,
lines at theatres, soup kitchens,
border crossings between famine and war.

911 will be dialed a thousand times today,
as if something dark and twisted
from another planet
is prowling our streets.

A day of fear.

The debtor weaves his credit
into blankets too thin for the winter cold.

The fallen on every side,
cancerous flesh disolving
before the chewing of a million
microscopic toxic mouths.

a day for filling the woodbox,
a cold front arrives tonight,
last summer’s cutting and splitting
will keep us warm while a gypsy jazz
violin plays softly and I stare into my fire.

What is my burden in the mayhem
out there,
how much can I bare?
Should I not tend my own borders,
I'll have mayhem of my own
enough to spare!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lake Trilogy


Sunlight dances on a path
across the wooded lake
from his place behind the forest hills
beyond the clouds,
to my dusky beach.

It is time for setting,
but strains of rag-time
acoustic guitar seem to reach him,
he lingers as if for reluctant good-byes,
a strictly ordered life,
by curfew he is gone,
yet his footprints
sparkle on the waters still.

now golden reflections,
like remembered music sent
from the veiling clouds,
dance the old quadrille
on liquid paths the sun made,
lyrical steps to the music
of Albinoni
upon Marc Atkinson's guitar.

Four inch breakers roll upon the shore,
curl like big boys before they break
with a little splash,
a tiny sand-piper busy among them.

Now music mellows, as do the waves,
the lake shimmers in glittering tremelo,
shadows deepen,
a loon splashes and cries.
The echoes die away,
a great hush settles
like a warm blanket by candlelight.


This morning a quiet mist
tip-toes in among the hills
around this inland sea.

Languid waves lap the shingle shore,
the water is undisturbed,
but by waking dreams.

Across the water I see low hills,
copses and fields, houses of men
tucked among them.

Piles of grey clouds hang overhead
with suggestions of coming rain,
willowy wind rustles her skirts,
picks up the pace,
wavelets dance in the wake
of her passing,
a family of loons motor by.

I see an ancient world
happy with itself;
the distant houses,
their fields of hay for the cattle,
ferry of commerce crossing
near the horizon,
the man with his book on the beach;

Happy or sad, at war or peace
ascendant, descendant,
intentions slicing the waves
or carried by them,
sometimes dancing perhaps,
but never the dance.


Waves are grown to crashing now,
rushing to wreck upon the shore,
it is breakfast at camp,
toast and eggs on the windy beach,
grown cold and blustering a bit
a foreshortening of time
under a lowering sky,
but we are warm,
yet, for now in this wilderness,
though time be short,
we are warm.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Every day the tide rises and words tumble ashore
in galloping foam.

I walk the beach and scan the offerings
kicking them about, or picking up
one or two for closer examination.

Mostly I am careless of them,
telling yesterdays beads as I walk,
or my eyes fixed on the horizon
looking for a sail.

What wealth may have been washed ashore
and carried back out again
I do not know,
nor how my life may have changed
had I been a more careful collector.


step out into the river,
watch the waters part,
Pile up dunes
of transparent sand,

Walk across
pebbled bed
between heaving waves
on dry land,

turn and stare,
for the river flows
as though none
of faith
had ever made
dry crossing there.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Love Like Wind

Have you known love like wind
that up-roots trees,
splits them into fence-rails,
mulches leaves,

Love like wind 
that piles stones into walls, 
plows fields 
where dark forests stood,
cuts with fervent breath 
wandering ways
for stoney brooks,

Love like wind that digs pools,
drives crystal rain to fill,
spills happily in pleasant song,
plants gardens of grass,
borders of flowers

Have you known love
like this kind of wind?

Such love
with roughened hands
this cottage fashions
in which we dwell.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Lamp, A Light

When history is unknown,
the neglected map finally lost,

when ghosts of old things,
dimly glimpsed,
flicker behind lidded eyes,
before and beside,

When we must commit
to choosing
when a mountain path forks,
miles from anywhere,
no sign marking a destination,
no return to try again,

When our times are so modern,
no road less travelled
to lend a clue,

Then even at noon we need
your foot lamp,
a path more lit,
Your resonating word,
inner sign shining,
poured upon the trail
in liquid light,
"walk this way"
brighter than noon,
undimming from now
to forever.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

A low flute plays from somewhere in the misty hills,
a woman sings,
five long tones in an unknown tongue
in random sequence,
a solemn hymn,
over and over the melody drifting,
a carol to mystery,
a lullaby,
the forest sighing remembered

shepherd melodies, perhaps
mistaking silence as solitude
assuming quiet moments are privacy,
rocks shift comfortably,
shouldering warm blankets of green,
promises under snow
in soft beds of moss.

I hold my breath,
it is Christmas,
all creation seems alive with secrets,
as though life, an infant,
has been born anew.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Christmas

Lord, you know the prophet weeps
more for one salvation
than for the love of a thousand hearts.

You fill caverns of need
among tongues and nations of desire,
filtering away detritus and debris
left by the tidal reach of centuries;
the steam flows daily more clear and fresh.

A song flows from the kitchen
with savory odours of cooking
and clashing pans,
the workshop hums with the diapason
song of satisfying toil,
rediscovered are old ways of caring.

This Christmas your Son is born.

In the Bethlehem stable
of many hearts,
the shepherd in them
worships you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Prayer

Let my prayers rise before you, Lord,
as this candle flame,

my love,
as steady burning
to you in its votive glass,
unseen, perhaps, but by a few
pausing on pilgrimage
at this trail-side stone chapel door,
to remark among their own
candled prayers

a kindred flame,
a fellow pilgrim
passing on before.